Lectins, Phytates and Gluten Free Diet
We talk about gluten ~ Gluten is a sticky, water soluble protein that is found in grains like wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) For people who are gluten intolerant grains can cause discomfort, digestive problems, skin conditions, depression, nerve pain, joint pain, lack of energy, arthritis, diabetes and much more including Celiac disease. Grains like corn, rice and oats have similar proteins that may cause problems over time.
There is another problem that most of us don’t discuss which are the unfriendly cousins called Lectins and Phytates that can be just as damaging.
Let’s discuss Lectins ~ they are sugar binding proteins. In plants they are natural toxins to protect against bugs, animals and humans. Rodents and birds can deal with lectins but humans can’t. They are found mostly in grains and legumes like beans, they are lethal in red kidney beans. The lectins attack intestinal lining where they compromise our intestinal system. They impair cellular regrowth and compromise intestinal villi, which reduces nutrient absorption. Most of the time their effects are subtle and it can take years for it to develop into life threatening disease. When lectins bind to the gut lining they can penetrate the gut wall forming holes in the gut lining allowing food particles, toxins and lectins into the blood stream called the leaky gut syndrome. Lectins are related to autoimmune disease such as arthritis, chrone disease and IBS, but they also relate to other problems like obesity and heart disease.
Let’s discuss phytates (phytic acid) ~ is a mineral blocker that prevents absorption of calcium, copper, zinc, iron and magnesium. The phytic acid is found in grains, legumes and nuts. By sprouting grains, evidence shows increase of vital vitamins and break down of the phytic acid.
Short answer avoids foods that have high concentration of lectin and phytates such as grains, legumes, nightshade plants and some nuts such as peanuts.
Fermentation ~ for moderate to high lectin foods you choose to keep in your diet, fermentation virtually eliminates lectins.
Cooking~ lowers lectin in foods, for example tomatoes are lower in lectin when cooked.
Sprouting ~ increases nutritional value of vitamins and break downs the phytic acid
Diversify ~ this means rotate your diet. A well balanced healthy mostly low lectin and phytate diet will offer enough nutrition to negate the impact of the occasional moderate level lectin and phytate sources.
Most importantly all grains and legumes must be cooked even better if they are soaked in water and then cooked. For legumes I recommend overnight and for grains at least twenty minutes to an hour.